School Notes

Date posted:   Mar 23, 2018

The Online Book Club: "Hillbilly Elegy"

Photo of Hillbilly Elegy

Fee: $50
Five Weeks

The “Signs of the Times” series includes courses that address difficult social, political and cultural themes in order to provide steps to bridge the deep divisions in the U.S. today.

Could listening be an initial step in bridging the deep social, political and cultural divides in the U.S. today? In the midst of the digital din, how does one sort out the voices?  A compelling memoir might be a good start.  In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance is both narrator of his own story and a frank and honest social commentator about the circumstances he, his family, and his community faced.  A complex portrait of the white working class who feel excluded emerges. Join us in reading Vance’s memoir, discussing his analysis and observations, and discovering the impact of his story on your own.

This course has a required text: J.D. Vance. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. HarperCollins, 2016.

Check the course schedule for future offerings of this course.


Introductory Week

Week 1: Getting to Know the Family (Chs. 1-4)

Week 2: Grade School Years (Chs. 5-8)

Week 3: High School, Marines, College (Chs. 9-11)

Week 4: Law School and Marriage (Chs. 12 – 15, Conclusion)

Special Features

This course includes:

  • Weekly introductions to each new topic;
  • Links to a different published commentary or review of the book each week;
  • Weekly questions for reflection and discussion; and
  • A regularly updated Resources page for further study of topics discussed in this course.

All Crossroads courses include these features:

  • Participants have access 24 hours/ 7 days a week to the course's password-protected web site. 
  • Each participant belongs to a small Community for Conversation and faith sharing guided by a facilitator.
  • Site is usually available to participants at least three months after the course.
  • An orientation in how to navigate the web site is always available.
  • Technical assistance is easy to contact and prompt in returning a message.
  • A Certificate of Active Participation is awarded to those who post at least three messages of substance for each week of content.

Additional Materials:

J.D. Vance. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. HarperCollins, 2016.

Time Commitment

A participant can expect to spend approximately 4 hours each week.  This commitment includes both preparation and interaction online.

Content Scholar: The book is a memoir by J.D. Vance, who grew up in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. He is currently a principal in an investment firm.  He is often a TV commentator on current events.